Speaking to Catholic News Agency, Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) has repeated his opposition to funding abortion in the proposed health care bill. Though not confident his amendment will be in the draft of the final bill, he said further negotiation is needed. He believes he has enough votes to affect the final outcome.
The Congressman added that he appreciates the dedication of those willing to “stand up for life” at the March for Life on Friday, the anniversary of the pro-abortion rights Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.
In a Friday interview, CNA asked Rep. Stupak if he was confident the Stupak-Pitts Amendment would be included in the health care legislation.
“Am I confident? No. It will not be in the draft of the final bill,” he replied. “We will have to negotiate.”
Rep. Stupak explained that if there is negotiation on the funding provisions of the bill, the Stupak Amendment will be germane to the discussion.
However, if the negotiations are focused on insurance reform and consumer protection, “there may not be an opportunity to insert the Stupak Amendment into the legislation.”
Stupak told CNA he believes he has enough votes to affect the outcome of health care legislation.
The congressman then described the debate leading to the first vote on the Stupak Amendment, adding that it had been important to “hold the line.”
“I was confident we’d have the votes if we held the line on the Hyde language in the Stupak Amendment,” he continued, referring to the Hyde Amendment restrictions on abortion funding.
“Not everybody was as confident as me.”
Rep. Stupak insisted that pro-lifers were “absolutely not” imposing their values on others with the proposal.
He noted that 55 percent of the newly elected members of Congress opposed public funding for abortion or for insurance policies that provide abortion coverage. He also cited strong public opposition to such funding.
“Most Americans agree with me.”
About 24 of the 64 other Democratic supporters of the Stupak Amendment were pro-choice, he told CNA.
He accused abortion funding proponents themselves of trying to “impose their values against the wishes of the American people.”
Before his amendment, he said, both the House and Senate health care bills required enrollees to pay one dollar per month for “reproductive rights,” which included abortion services.
“That was a mandate, you had to do it. If anyone was imposing their moral viewpoint it was the pro-choice side,” Rep. Stupak insisted.
In the course of his interview with CNA, Stupak also discussed his pro-life convictions.
Support for the right to life has “always been my position,” he said.
He explained that most legislators from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula favor the right to life whether they are Democrats or Republicans. “It’s just who we are up here,” he said.
Asked about his Catholic upbringing, Rep. Stupak said his father was in seminary but left six months short of being ordained to the priesthood.
“I went to Catholic school, my wife went to Catholic school, our sons went to Catholic schools. There’s always been a certain Catholic influence in our families. Both my wife and I have been very strong.”
He added that the U.S. Catholic bishops have been “great to work with” on the pro-life issue.
CNA noted that the March for Life was taking place in Washington, D.C. and asked the Congressman if he would like to address the participants.
“I appreciate their dedication and their willingness to stand up for life,” he replied. “And I certainly appreciate all their help and support and prayers as we fought this amendment on the House floor and we continue to fight this amendment. We must keep the policy as it is, no funding on abortion.”